THE WORLD AROUND US
 
Pilgrimage to India: Sarnath and Haridwar (In Hindi)      
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Today’s The World Around Us will be presented in Hindi and English, with subtitles in Arabic, Aulacese (Vietnamese), Chinese, English, French, German, Hindi, Indonesian, Japanese, Korean, Malay, (Mongolian,) Persian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Thai.

Namaskar (greeting in Sanskrit) and welcome to The World Around Us. Today, we will travel to the North of India to Sarnath and Haridwar – two of India’s holiest places.

Our first stop today is Sarnath, which is situated 13 km northeast of the “eternal city” of Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh. Sarnath is the deer park where Lord Buddha first set the wheel of preaching the dharma in motion by preaching the first sutra, known as the Dhamacakkhapavathana Sutta, to his first five monks. Sarnath is also where Lord Buddha spoke several other sutras such as the Anattalakhana Sutta and the Sacchavibhanga Sutta.

The name Sarnath originates from the word Saranganath which means “Lord of the Deer.” It refers to a story about a previous life of Shakyamuni Buddha in which he offered his life to a king. This was so that the life of the doe which the king intended to kill might be spared.

According to the story, the king was so moved by the compassionate spirit of the Bodhisattva that he created a park for deers. This park still exists today. Sarnath is also called Mrigadava which means “the place where deer roam undisturbed.” During Lord Buddha’s lifetime it was called Isipatana, which means the place where holy men landed on earth after traveling through the air.

Near the end of his life on Earth, Shakyamuni Buddha mentioned Sarnath as one of the four holy places which his followers should visit, along with Lumbini (the place of his birth), Bodh Gaya (the place of his enlightenment), and Kushinagar (where he entered nirvana, or a blissful state).

The Dhamek Stupa is said to have been built on the spot where the Buddha’s voice was first heard when he started to preach the Dharma. The present stupa was built in 500 AD as a replacement for an older structure which had been built by King Ashoka in 249 BC. King Ashoka built stupas to enshrine small pieces of calcinated bones and other relics of the Buddha.

Buddhist believers from all around the world come to Sarnath and circumambulate the stupas, do worship, and meditate in the garden.

There is also a Bodhi tree which was planted in 1931. It is a sapling from the 2,260-year-old Jaya Sri Mahabodhi tree in Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka. This is in turn a sapling of the original Bodhi tree under which Lord Buddha reached enlightenment. The sacred tree was brought to Sri Lanka in 249 BC by the daughter of King Ashoka. Near the Bodhi tree, Lord Buddha’s first sermon is written on several large tablets in different languages.

In addition, we find the ruins of the ancient Mulagandhakuti Vihara temple where Lord Buddha spent his first rainy season. From here, Lord Buddha sent out his disciples to preach the Dharma when their number had reached 60. He told them, “Let two of you not take the same path, Bhikkus (spiritual practitioners), preach the Dhamma (teaching).”

The base of a pillar which was raised by King Ashoka in 250 BCE still stands in its original location, while its top is now displayed in the Sarnath Museum. The top of the pillar has been adopted as India’s national emblem.

Sarnath is also an important holy site to people of the Jain faith. The Sri Digamber Jain Temple is dedicated to Shreyansanath, the 11th Jain Tirthankar (enlightened and liberated spiritual master) who was born 1 km away in the village of Singhpur. According to Jain faith, he lived until the amazing old age of 8,400,000 years!

We will now go by railway to visit the holy city of Haridwar, the site of the great gathering known as Kumbha Mela 2010. Please stay tuned to Supreme Master Television.

Welcome back to The World Around Us. We are now in Haridwar, situated at the feet of the Himalayas and on the banks of the Ganges river. Haridwar is a city of 295,000 inhabitants. Here, all meat, alcohol, and eggs are forbidden. It is home to innumerable temples which are in every corner of the city. Haridwar has one of the world’s largest statues of Lord Shiva.

Among Haridwar’s most prominent temples are the Mansa Devi temple, which is situated upon a hill; the Daksheswara Mahadev temple in the district of Kankhal; and the Maya Devi temple. In ancient times, seven great rishis (enlightened saints) used to meditate near Haridwar.

Among them, Vashishta was one of the gurus of Lord Rama. These “saptarishis” are regarded as the most evolved Light Beings in the Creation and as the Guardians of the Divine Laws. The Ganges river is said to have split into seven arms in the area where they lived, in order to not to disturb their meditation.

Since time immemorial, Haridwar has been graced by the presence of many holy people. One of these was Guru Nanak Dev who visited Haridwar in 1504 and bathed at the Kushwan Ghat.

In more recent times, another saint, Sri Anandamayi Ma, had an ashram in Kankhal, which is a town three kilometers south of Haridwar. In this ashram is also situated the samadhi shrine of this “blissful mother,” who was one of India’s most beloved women saints.

We are now going to go to Haridwar’s major landmark, the Har Ki Pauri. It is the location of the Kumbh Mela, one of the world’s largest pilgrimage gatherings of millions of people at a time. Kumbh Mela, held every 12 years, is indeed an unforgettable spiritual event to behold. Mr. Avinash Vashesh is a local inhabitant who kindly introduced us to the significance of Kumbh Mela when it took place earlier this year in 2010.

With all due prostrations to the Supreme Master Ching Hai, I am Avinash Vashesh from Haridwar. Here you are standing right at the top of the Har Ki Pauri, the main venue of the Kumbh Mela bath. The Kumbh Mela is held every 12 years, because long time ago, when the demons and the deities, they churned the sea, the urn of nectar of immortality emerged from the sea. And that urn of nectar of immortality was grabbed by the demons, and they ran all over the Earth with the urns.

So, one of the drops of that nectar of immortality fell here in the Brahma Kund. Now, it is very auspicious for the people to come and bathe in the Brahma Kund at that particular time which comes after every 12 years. If anybody takes a dip at that time, he is freed from the cycle of reincarnation, of rebirth.

This is the Ganga river which is flowing in front of you. And this is the only goddess which we worship in India, which is visible through the mortal eyes of a human being. Another thing which I want to explain to you is that the name of this particular city is called Haridwar. Dwar means door.

Now if you look at it Geographically, this is a virtual valley through which the river Ganga emerges out from the hills and flows into the plains. So the mountains, they form a sort of a door. Another name for Shiva is Har, and the followers of Shiva, they called it Hardwar, whereas the followers of Vishnu, his other name is Hari, the followers of Vishnu, they called it Haridwar.

Now another thing which I want to tell you is that the Brahma Kund where, the bathing takes place, that particular place is called the Brahma Kund. And the entire other place is called Har Ki Pauri. So, Har Ki Pauri or Hariki Pauri, it’s one and the same thing. Pauri means steps. Now so there are lots of steps going down to the river where people just converge over here, take off their clothes and take a dip in the holy waters of the Ganga.

During her stay in India in the early 1980s, Supreme Master Ching Hai was present in Haridwar at the time of the Kumbh Mela.

She had immersed herself in the Ganges River, receiving purifying blessings. Although she did not wish to attract any attention, high-level spiritual practitioners recognized that she was a Master. According her with the highest respect, they bowed to her and offered to her the best kind of tent usually reserved for the great Masters.

Upon her disciples’ request to know more about her experiences in the Himalayas, Supreme Master Ching Hai shared some of her memories as follows.

One time, I went into a very big camping place. That was in Haridwar. Haridwar means “the Gate of Heaven.” It’s one of the very big, famous, important, holy pilgrim places in India. And every 12 years, they have a Kumbh Mela. Kumbh Mela means a gathering of all the saints and seers and sages in India.

It doesn’t matter where the person stays, where the monks or these seers, the yogis, the saints and sages, the ones who can see things, the future and all that, ones who can see psychically, or the ones who already attained enlightenment, or the ones have not attained enlightenment. Sometimes they hide themselves in caves, in mountains, remote.

But at that time of Kumbh Mela, every 12 years, they would gather in that place together. And people would come in millions to prepare thousands, hundreds of thousands of tents, free of charge, for these monks, and also for the pilgrims, whoever likes to overnight there. Of course, never enough. But still they reserved one tent for me.

May the spiritual atmosphere of such sacred sites and pious people continue to bless India and our world.

Thank you sincere viewers for joining us on today’s The World Around Us. Up next is Words of Wisdom, after Noteworthy News. May Heaven bless your every step on life’s journey.

From the ashes of conflict and suffering, they risked their own safety to forge peace and love.

Ms. Marguerite “Maggy” Barankitse from Burundi took in traumatized orphans from both sides, gave them love and taught them forgiveness.

I believe in this dignity that God gave us. We want peace. We want love. We believe in that.

Ms. Yang Wei-Ling from Formosa (Taiwan) started with nothing, but is now known throughout Cambodia for aiding the most in need.

Although our human body is fragile and limited, we can still make our life shine and extend ourselves infinitely.

Meet the recipients of the Shining World Compassion Award from Supreme Master Ching Hai, Saturday, July 10.

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